Brooklyn Nets: Keeping Reed is Best Final Decision


The beginning of the regular season is quickly approaching and the Brooklyn Nets must make decisions on the final spots on their roster.  One of those final spots is likely to come down to big men Justin Harper and Willie Reed.  Considering the injury histories of starter Brook Lopez and backup Andrea Bargnani either Reed or Harper could end up seeing playing time this season.  As a result, this decision is much more difficult for Brooklyn than another team deciding on who will occupy the third string spot at center.

Up until October, Reed was viewed as the frontrunner for the roster spot, but he suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb during a mid-October preseason game and underwent surgery on the 16th that will keep him out 6-8 weeks, making his earliest possible return date November 28th versus Cleveland.  With both Reed and Bargnani out, Harper has seen a boost in preseason minutes and given Billy King and the front office something to think about when constructing their final roster.

Sep 28, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Willie Reed (33) poses for a photo during media day at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Posting 9 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 48.8 percent from the field through six games, Harper has provided an offensive spark off the bench behind Lopez.  A stretch forward by trade, he’s also shot 47.4 percent from beyond the arc and has shown enough hustle and energy to earn a roster spot despite being undersized as a 6’10”, 225 pound center.  After flaming out as a second rounder in Orlando, Harper has spent the last three years in the D-League, Israel, and Italy before attempting his NBA comeback in September.  His shooting range and health will give him the advantage over Reed if Brooklyn doesn’t want to wait for the latter’s comeback.

Reed was with the Nets in training camp last offseason, but waived before heading to the D-League.  Only a few months later, in July, he signed with the Heat’s Summer League team.  His 17 point, 9 rebound game versus Summer League invite Cliff Alexander and the Nets quickly caught the eyes of Billy King who signed him to a one-year deal with $500,000 guaranteed.  He played well enough in Summer League for Brooklyn to waive Alexander as Reed showed the toughness and energy that the Nets are looking to add to their roster this offseason.  He was constantly banging in the paint and offered a physical presence that neither Lopez nor Bargnani can bring to the table on the defensive end.  After averaging 8.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and .8 blocks while shooting 54.8 percent from the field, he proved he deserves a roster spot this season.

Despite the production, with health questions on the Brooklyn roster, it could be a risk to wait for Reed to return with a potential mid-December timeline.  The risk, however, could be worth the wait.  With Lopez fully healthy and Bargnani a full participant in Friday’s light practice, the third string center will likely not be seeing any playing time in the near future.  Lopez will certainly be playing the majority of minutes as the Nets will need him to remain in the game as the number one option in their offense and Brooklyn likely to be competing in a lot of close games considering their level of talent.  Bargnani will cover the remaining minutes and the undersized Thomas Robinson will likely soak up any remaining minutes should the Nets choose to go with a small ball lineup.

With the Brooklyn Nets short on toughness and defense and Reed able to provide that as the season wears on and Lopez and Bargnani need more days of rest, it would certainly benefit Brooklyn to consider the long-term benefits of keeping the injured big man on the roster knowing that the two ahead of him can hold down the fort until he returns capable of giving them a breather as the new year approaches.

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